The University Interscholastic League hasn’t even decided its 2019 football season state champions – that’ll happen in a few weeks – but the governing body of all things Texas high school sports did release its cutoff numbers Tuesday for the next round of realignment.
And although Kilgore and Sabine don’t look to be moving, that doesn’t mean they won’t be affected by the changes.
The UIL realigns, or re-works, its districts every two years for many reasons, including to keep its sports fresh. That realignment is announced every other February – it’ll be announced this coming February, February 3, to be exact.
The realignment is based on enrollment, and although nothing is official until February 3, numbers turned in by the schools a few weeks ago – “snapshot” numbers, what the schools expect are their enrollment numbers – give a fairly good indication of where schools will fall.
Kilgore is currently in the UIL’s Class 4A, Division I, the biggest division of 4A. The Bulldogs, according to athletic director and head football coach Mike Wood, turned in a snapshot number of 1,095 students. The UIL’s announced cutoff for 4A-DI and the bigger 5A-Division II is well above that, at 1,210. So Kilgore sports are nowhere near moving up to the bigger classification.
The bottom number for 4A – the cutoff between 4A-DI and 4A-DII – is 864, so there’s no danger in Kilgore dropping to a smaller 4A school, either.
There is one thing, though: it looks like the old “District of Doom” will be broken up.
While Kilgore is well within 4A-DI, as is Henderson (who turned in a snapshot of 945). But Carthage, winners of multiple football state championships in the last decade, turned in 824, coming in under that 4A, DI-DII cutoff, as did another of Kilgore’s rivals, Van, who submitted a snapshot of 745.
Conversely, Lindale, who had been a smaller 5A (5A-DII), will come down to 4A-DI. Palestine, who beat both Kilgore and Henderson this year, stays 4A-DI.
Kilgore got off to a great 3-0 start in football, but injuries played a factor in the Bulldogs’ season, and even though they made the playoffs, they lost to Crandall in Athens in round one. Kilgore volleyball, led by coach Madeline Harris, had its best season in nearly 30 years, finishing second in district play and beating North Lamar in the first round, before running into 40-win Farmersville.
Football often has a different realignment than the other sports – for instance, Kilgore has been in a district with Henderson, Palestine, Carthage, Van, and Chapel Hill the last two years, but the district alignment for volleyball, baseball, softball and basketball is Bullard, Chapel Hill, Gilmer, Henderson, Spring Hill and Cumberland Academy.
Sabine also looks to remain in the bigger 3A-DI. Head football coach and AD Rex Sharp told the News Herald Tuesday morning that the school’s submitted snapshot was 466, about right in the middle of 3A-DI. The cutoff from 3A-DI to 4A-DII is 514, so Cardinals athletics are well within that range.
Sabine has had an unprecedented athletic season so far. Basketball, Sabine’s normal sport of success, is just getting under way, but the Cardinals had their best football season ever, finishing with a 10-2 record and a single-season record for wins. The Cardinals also not only made the playoffs, but won a football playoff game for the first time in school history.
Sabine volleyball also set a single-season record for wins (39), although they were upset in the first round of the playoffs.
Another school in the News Herald’s coverage area, West Rusk High School in New London, looks to be headed back down to 3A-DII. Raiders athletics had been the bigger division the last two years, competing in a district that included Sabine, White Oak and Gladewater.
The Raiders submitted a snapshot of 317; 3A-DI includes schools with enrollments of 350 to 514, and that’s well below the bottom number of 350. That likely means the Raiders will go back to their old competition, possibly Arp, Troup and even Waskom.
West Rusk volleyball made the playoffs, but was eliminated early; West Rusk football bounced back from a trio of district losses to get into the postseason, but ran into Jefferson in the first round, and finished 7-4.
Overton ISD submitted a snapshot of 138. Mustangs athletics have been competing in the smaller 2A, Division II the last two years, and before, really. They’ll remain there, as the bottom-number, the cutoff between 2A-DI and 2A-DII is 165. Overton football missed the playoffs this season, a winless year, unfortunately, but Overton volleyball did get into the postseason.
Leverett’s Chapel has a six-man football program, which is classified with the UIL as 1A. Believe it or not, even with the small number of students LC has, it still falls within the bigger 1A-DI, by about two students, LC football coach Andy Bates told the News Herald Tuesday. That means the Lions will remain 1A-DI, as long as that bottom number isn’t adjusted by the UIL.
LC volleyball competes on the 2A level, and has a different district realignment than football.
In other news of note from the cutoff number announcement, it appears Longview, who won a 6A-DII state championship back in the 2018 season, will now be the problem of schools in 5A-DI. The Lobos turned in a snapshot of 2,186.5 (yes, a half-student), and will drop back down to the same level with schools like Lufkin and John Tyler.
According to Matt Stepp, of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Allen is the biggest 6A school in Texas. And Stepp, on his Twitter account Tuesday, said that to put it in perspective of how big Allen is, if it split into three schools, each of them would also be able to be in the 6A classification.